Well, the bird flu has arrived here in Germany, but as a survivor of Toronto’s SARS "epidemic" and the "West Nile Virus", I’ve developed a resistance to the excesses of the news media. The "Toronto – Plague City" headlines of 2003 were truly ridiculous, and the media hysteria that infected even those who really should have known better – ie. the World Health Organization – was exponentially more devastating to the city than the actual disease.
So while everyone else frets about the prospect of a viral genetic leap from avian sufferer to hominid, I’m more concerned about the birds. I’ve missed their chatter, the lovely noise of birds staking out territory and attracting mates that pierces closed windows and reminds me that there is a world outside my four walls at the strangest times of day. How many birds are going to die? Will this become a "Silent Spring"?
The flocks are just starting to arrive from their migration, and I wonder how much longer people are going to welcome them. Lately, I replenish the bird feeder and imagine a dozen pairs of eyes boring into my back from the apartment windows around me. No, we’re not there yet, for Germans are a direct people and my neighbours would not hesitate to tell me that they resent the presence of the feeder. But it will come, I think. Media hype is an insidious thing, and I dread outbreaks of melodramatic headlines far more than I do the virus.